Essay The Rites of Spring by Modris Eksteins

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Modris Eksteins presented a tour-de-force interpretation of the political, social and cultural climate of the early twentieth century. His sources were not merely the more traditional sources of the historian: political, military and economic accounts; rather, he drew from the rich, heady brew of art, music, dance, literature and philosophy as well. Eksteins examined ways in which life influenced, imitated, and even became art. Eksteins argues that life and art, as well as death, became so intermeshed as to be indistinguishable from one another. The title of the book, The Rites of Spring, and the plunge into the world of the Ballet Russe in the first chapter, made clear that Eksteins intended to use Stravinsky's ballet as an image for…show more content…
Germany was, relatively speaking, a new nation; new as a single nation. Russian contributions to music and dance were new; they did not date back centuries like in England, France, Germany and Italy. Politically, Germany found herself in a similar situation. She was new and wanted to make her place among the great powers; she saw herself as the innovator, a progressive spirit, as opposed to wearied France and conservative Britain. Eksteins contends that because Germans saw themselves as the agent of (inevitable) progress, they felt their role in The Great War was defensive rather than aggressive. To attack Germany was to attack the future. This belief that they must defend their homeland from those who would deny the future, sustained the Germans during and after the war, and into the next one. Eksteins realized that Hitler was not an anomaly; Hitler touched a sympathetic chord within the Germans. Although Eksteins discussed that any group may want to find scapegoats when things go wrong, citing the tendencies of the French to look beyond themselves for explanations of failure, he implies that, in Germany, finding scapegoats produced such horrific results because preexisting sentiments of anti-Semitism combined with the violence and power of Nazism. His depiction of the vibrant and dynamic, "pep rally‿ mentality with its appeal to
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